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The Lego Movie — There are so many things to like about The Lego Movie: a great voice cast, clever dialogue and a handsome blend of stop-motion and CGI animation that feels lovingly retro, while still looking sharp in 21st-century 3-D. Set in a world built entirely of Legos, the story revolves around construction worker Emmet Brickowski (voice of Chris Pratt), a tiny plastic Everyman who loves nothing better than following instructions. But when his Legouniverse is threatened by the evil Lord Business (Will Ferrell), Emmet must join forces with a group of rebels to stop him. Guided by a leader who’s part Gandalf and part Morpheus (Morgan Freeman), this underground resistance includes a punk-ish loner (Elizabeth Banks); her egotistical boyfriend, Batman (Will Arnett); a Lego spaceman figure from the mid-1980s (Charlie Day); and a robot-pirate hybrid (Nick Offerman). It’s hard not to have fun when the film (written and directed by Phil Lord and Christopher Miller) is having such a good time with pop culture. Rated PG, 94 minutes. — The Washington Post

Vampire Academy — Two best friends — vampire princess Lissa (Lucy Fry) and Rose (Zoey Deutch), her half-vampire guardian-in-training — are caught and returned to their boarding school, where they believe their lives may be in jeopardy. Based on the book series by Richelle Mead. With Danila Kozlovsky, Sarah Hyland and Dominic Sherwood. Directed by Mark Waters (Mean Girls). Rated PG-13, 104 minutes.


August: Osage County — When a family crisis brings them back to the Oklahoma house they grew up in, three sisters confront the dysfunctional woman who raised them. With Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Ewan McGregor and Chris Cooper. Written by Tracy Letts. Directed by John Wells. Rated R, 130 minutes. — Los Angeles Times

Frozen — Disney’s new movie, very roughly based on Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen,” follows two princesses: rambunctious young Anna (voiced by Kristen Bell) and older sister Elsa (Idina Menzel), who has the secret, magical ability to chill whatever she touches. Rated PG, 85 minutes. — Minneapolis Star Tribune

Her — Spike Jonze wrote and directed this soulful meditation about a man (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls in love with his operating system (voiced by Scarlett Johansson). Jonze probes higher questions of what actually makes a human. Thoughtful, if at times leisurely paced. With Chris Pratt, Amy Adams and Rooney Mara. Rated R, 126 minutes. — Boo Allen

Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit — In this Jack Ryan reboot, Chris Pine takes over as Tom Clancy’s CIA analyst. Shadow Recruit, which was scripted without a Clancy book, tells a new backstory for Ryan. Inspired by Sept. 11, he joins the Marines and is heroically injured in Afghanistan. During his recovery, he meets his eventual fiancee (Keira Knightley) and is lured to the CIA by a mysterious recruiter (Kevin Costner). He’s covertly embedded at a Wall Street bank where he uncovers a Russian plot to buy up U.S. Treasury bonds. Director-actor Kenneth Branagh endows his film with (mostly) old-fashioned competency but little to distinguish it from superior thrillers that have come before. Rated PG-13, 105 minutes. — The Associated Press

Labor Day — In Labor Day, a woman falls in love with the man who takes her hostage, but the movie goes out of its way to make that journey easy for her. Adele (Kate Winslet), a shy, divorced mother, meets an escaped convict, Frank (Josh Brolin), who makes his way into her car and then into her house. Outside there’s a manhunt, while inside Frank soon is making chili and baking pies. The overall effect is drippy, not emotional but sentimental. Adapted by writer-director Jason Reitman (Up in the Air) from Joyce Maynard’s novel. Rated PG-13, 111 minutes. — San Francisco Chronicle

Lone Survivor — Mark Wahlberg stars in this true story of four Navy SEALS in Afghanistan in 2005 on a mission to find and eliminate a Taliban leader. When the squad is reduced to one (hence the title), he finds refuge in an unlikely place. The standard action flick accentuates the bravery of the squad, but co-writer and director Peter Berg never raises his film beyond routine adventure material. With Eric Bana, Emile Hirsch, Ben Foster and Taylor Kitsch. Rated R, 121 minutes. — B.A.

Ride Along — A little Kevin Hart goes a long way in Ride Along, a dull buddy picture engineered as a vehicle for the mini-motor mouth Hart and the perma-sneering Ice Cube. Cube is cranky cop James, whose pursuit of a mysterious villain named Omar is interrupted by his sister’s fiance. That would be Ben (Hart), a video game-addicted school security guard who longs to bring his wise-cracking, voice-cracking banter to the Atlanta P.D. James drags Ben on a ride-along just to convince the dude he isn’t cut out for police work and that he isn’t good enough for James’ supermodel sister Angela (Tika Sumpter). Rated PG-13, 100 minutes. — McClatchy-Tribune News Service

That Awkward Moment — This chatty romantic comedy in the modern mode — rude, nude and crude — has some funny, writerly riffs on relationships and how to avoid them. But the movie, like star Zac Efron and writer-director Tom Gormican, never lets us forget that it’s trying too hard, straining to spit out sexy, silly patter, reaching for that raunchy costume failure at a dinner party, grasping for gross takes on trips to the toilet. Efron, Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now) and Michael B. Jordan (Fruitvale Station) play three New York pals who vow, when one is dumped by his wife, to stay single and enjoy the mingling. Which all of them ignore. With Imogen Poots, Mackenzie Davis, Jessica Lucas and Josh Pais. Rated R, 94 minutes. — MCT